While everyone went off to play the latest Ghost of Tsushima DLC, I was left behind twiddling my thumbs and wishing I could afford it. Then, I looked at my PlayStation backlog, hissed like Dracula being burned by the sun, and retreated into the safe comfort of relaxing indie games. Fortunately for me, I had Side Decide set up and ready to go – as one does – and quickly settled into it like a child snuggled under a blankie by the fire while watching Elf with a hot chocolate on Christmas.
“The simplicity of the block and its various patterns make the entire experience a delightfully enjoyable one.”
A lot can be said about Side Decide’s delectably simplistic visual aesthetic. For starters, it envokes that beautiful nostalgic sense of childlike wonder that I enjoy so much. The toybox aesthetic seems perfectly suited for this style of puzzle game. It is truly a stroke of genius by the game’s solo developer Blue Volcano.
It works tremendously with the game’s more laid-back attitude to puzzle gameplay. It also helps in simplifying a potentially overly complex set of instructions. The simplicity of the block and its various patterns make the entire experience a delightfully enjoyable one as opposed to a perplexingly frustrating act of irritating the player.
“Side Decide’s complexity was never detrimental to its relaxing atmosphere.”
The puzzles present in Side Decide are suitably complex. While the visual design of the block and the coherent instructions assist in figuring out exactly what it is you’re supposed to do, Side Decide still ensures that there’s enough challenge to retain your attention. It introduces new mechanics intermittently across its 121 levels.
It ensures that the gameplay remains fresh and interesting, while never deviating too much from its original premise. There’s a perfect balance of challenge and comprehension at play here. It is clear that while the developer put a lot of effort into ensuring these puzzles would offer you enough challenge, they also want you to have fun.
Additionally, Side Decide’s complexity was never detrimental to its relaxing atmosphere. It’s rarely difficult to completely solve the puzzle as a solution will eventually present itself. However, in the same way, shoving a square into a circular hole may inevitably result in success, there’s always a more elegant and efficient solution.
The challenge comes in completing the puzzle in the requisite amount of turns. However, even attempting to accomplish that never led to frustration. Instead, the act of collecting all three stars on each puzzle lent itself nicely to the relaxing atmosphere of the game. Not only does it offer a plethora of content for you to enjoy, but a fun and satisfying way of engaging with it.
“Side Decide is one of the most succinctly brilliant puzzle games I’ve ever played.”
Luckily, I only had one minor issue with Side Decide across my entire playthrough. In order to turn the block, you must press either Q or E. This is a perfectly acceptable way of doing this and ensures that it never gets too complicated. Unfortunately, I’d often hit either of the buttons expecting the opposite result. As turning the block counts as a move, I was often forced to restart to get the gold star. However, I’m more than willing to chalk this up to my bad memory. I’d just recommend memorising which button turns the block left and which one turns it right.
Side Decide is one of the most succinctly brilliant puzzle games I’ve ever played. While it never deviates too far from the mechanics and ideas you’ve seen before, it bundles them up nicely into an incredibly enjoyable package. There is a lot of content to enjoy and all for very little cost. It’s hard not to recommend Side Decide, especially if you’re looking for a more relaxed experience. So light your fireplace, grab your blankie and hot chocolate and treat yourself to a quick game of Side Decide.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the developer.